More on vessel speeds at Hood Canal Bridge

The in basket: Back in June when Trish Olson complained about speeds of Navy and Coast Guard vessels under the transition spans of the Hood Canal Bridge, the official response generally minimizing the problem brought me an anonymous voice mail that said the following:

“Fishing as I do,” said a woman’s voice, “and listening to the marine band, the workers on the Hood Canal Bridge are always telling the Coast Guard,  the ones in the white boats, to slow down because of the waves that mess up not only the new bridge but the old one too.

“I have witnessed some of those waves on the Kitsap side,” she said, “and you can surf on those suckers. The new gray (Coast Guard) boats are not too bad but the other ones just haul ass and a lot of people on the Kitsap side are pretty upset with it.”

I asked Lt. Regina Caffrey of the Coast Guard in Seattle and the state Department of Transportation to comment on the allegations.

The out basket: Lisa Copeland, spokesman for WSDOT, says “(Bridge Superintendent) Dean Crawford tells me that when passing through the center opening section of the bridge, this is the only time we have issues with the speed.

“On occasion, speeds are above the 7 knots we like to see.” Dean said, “but we understand that steerage is the main issue here and each vessel requires a different minimum speed to maximize the ability to maintain a true course.

“The most important part of the process is that the bridge is not struck and damaged,” he continued. “The second issue is when the speeds of the ships are above that speed and tidal influences are working against the bridge, it will delay the time it takes to get the two ends of the floating structures to ‘settle down”’ and realign the centers so they will fit and lock.”

Regina of the Coast Guard replied, “While I understand your reader/source has concerns; I have not heard of any similar concerns or issues.  The Coast Guard has highly trained, professional mariners that follow commandant policy as well as applicable navigation rules.  Our vessels may operate at higher speeds in support of missions or training.

“If there are further questions or concerns from your readers,” she said, “you can provide the contact information for the District 13 Coast Guard Public Affairs Office; 206-220-7237.”


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